REPORT: IPSWICH 2 ALBION 3
- The Seagulls go top of the Championship
- Tomer Hemed and Kazenga LuaLua on target for Albion
- Freddie Sears and David McGoldrick score for the hosts
- Bobby Zamora makes his second Albion debut
Brighton & Hove Albion ended one of the toughest weeks in the club's history, with a 3-2 win over Ipswich Town, thanks to goals from Kazenga LuaLua and Tomer Hemed.
The pair struck in the first half, before Ipswich pulled level after the break, but Hemed deservedly won the game midway through the second half with a fine header.
The performance and result was a fitting tribute to Albion staff member Matt Grimstone and his fellow Seagulls fan Jacob Schilt, who tragically lost their lives in the Shoreham air crash and the team once again wore black armbands.
Albion made a fast start, and Chris Hughton's men were two-up inside the first 12 minutes. First, LuaLua made it four goals in seven appearances as he latched onto a lovely chipped pass by Gaetan Bong, got the better of Ipswich full-back Josh Emmanuel and fired a low shot across Dean Gerken's goal and into the opposite corner.
The second came two minutes later as LuaLua broke again, but this time was sent tumbling by Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Dale Stephens took the free-kick some 30 yards from goal on the left and the in-swinging kick appeared to evade everyone, before creeping in at the far post.
Albion's players ran to congratulate Stephens, but TV replays showed that perhaps Hemed got the slightest of touches at close range - and he and Hughton both confirmed as much afterwards.
The Seagulls almost made it 3-0 after 23 minutes, as Bong sent Sam Baldock through on goal, with another brilliant ball over the top of the Ipswich defence. The striker's first touch was sublime, but Gerken did well to narrow the angle and Baldock's toe-poke shot curled just wide of the right post.
Hemed showed great skill just inside the Ipswich half, before passing wide to Liam Rosenior; he sent Bruno clear on the overlap, and the latter cut the ball back for Hemed in the box, but the Israeli international was crowded out before he could fire off a shot.
Beram Kayal sent Hemed through, after a brilliant tackle in midfield, but Luke Chambers recovered well to concede a corner. From Stephens's kick, Uwe Huenemeier's looping header was punched clear by Gerken, who was under pressure from Hemed and Baldock.
Ipswich's main threat was former West Ham United striker Freddie Sears, and the striker had a couple of good efforts before the break as the home side tried to get a foothold in the game.
The first was a low near-post effort well gathered by David Stockdale; the second was a first-time shot from the edge of the box from a well-worked set-piece, which whistled just wide of the right post.
After the interval, Stephens was denied by the woodwork, as he drove into the box, worked some space and smashed a low drive past Gerken, only to see it rebound of the left post.
Mick McCarthy made a double change at the break, bringing on Piotr Malarczyk and David McGoldrick for Emmanuel and Maitland-Niles, who'd both struggled to contain LuaLua. The home team looked a different side to the one in the first 45 minutes - and inside ten minutes Sears halved the deficit.
Malarczyk had already seen a volley ruled out for offside before Sears struck, and the danger man reacted quickest after Pitman's shot from the left cannoned back off the post, and the ball fell perfectly for him to fire into the net from close range.
Hemed flashed a shot into the side netting, as Albion remained a threat on the break; and Rosenior skipped past Jonas Knudsen on the right and his dangerous cross for Hemed at the near post was well defended by Town.
Rosenior then saw an effort go a whisker wide as he tried to guide a curling shot from the right into the opposite corner with his left foot. Kayal was next to have a crack, unleashing a powerful, rising effort which went over the cross bar.
Ipswich levelled from the penalty spot in the 65th minute, after Bruno was adjudged to have fouled Ryan Fraser. Sub McGoldrick stepped up and despatched the kick into the bottom left corner.
The equaliser was harsh on Albion, but they deservedly regained the lead within two minutes through Hemed, and there was no debate on who scored this goal, as he got a glancing near-post header to LuaLua's deflected cross to make it 3-2.
Albion continued to go forward with real purpose, and Baldock saw a shot deflected up and over the bar at the expense of a corner. Hemed got his head to the kick, but it was well cleared by Tommy Smith under pressure in the six-yard box; and Dunk saw a header drop just wide from the follow-up corner.
With 13 minutes left, and to the delight of the travelling Albion fans and 4500 days after his last appearance in 2003, Bobby Zamora came on in place of Hemed.
Late on Rosenior went close again, as he drilled a low cross-shot from the right, with Zamora lurking; Gerken was down well to save, before a late onslaught from the home side, but Albion held firm for a well-deserved win to go top of the Championship.